The religion of Buddhism firmly established itself in Thailand in the 6th and 7th centuries, when the icon of the Thai Buddha became ever-present. The "Mons" people created a kingdom in central Thailand called "Dvaratvi" and placed the image of the Thai Buddha around their kingdom. The sculpture of the Thai Buddha of this period depicts the key stages of his life. As well, the image of the Thai Buddha shows him with certain key symbols, such as the wheel of dhamma.
Later, during the Sukhothai period, the Thai Buddha image is depicted in graceful poses, represented as an ethereal figure. The Thai Buddha of that time was sculpted to show a soft appearance without a hint of muscle or bone, suggesting an asexual image that idealized the Buddha's conquest of identifying with a physical body. At the top of the Thai Buddha of this time was a protrusion that looked like a flame. This represented the ceaseless spiritual energy of the Thai Buddha.
The most popular Sukhothai sculptures and images of the period show the Thai Buddha walking. Such images are still popular in Thailand today. However, the Thai Buddha art of the Sukhothai period soon gave way to that of the Ayuthaya kingdom. The Thai Buddhas of that period were much more ornate and had a distinctly different look from the Sukhothai period. The Thai Buddha images of that time were created with crowns and gaudy decorations.
Eventually the Ayuthaya period ended with the conquest of the Burmese in 1767. A new Thai kingdom was created in Bangkok, and with it the look of a new Thai Buddha. The current king of that time, Kin Mongkut, reformed the look of Thai Buddhas to look much more humble than the Ayuthaya period. The Thai Buddhas of the modern period were portrayed more simply and without the visual appearance of flames or ornate garb.
Today, one can see many different types of Thai Buddha images in Thailand depending on the location and age of certain temples. The image of the Thai Buddha is everywhere, their golden bodies perennially reflecting the light that shines on them. They are paid homage to by millions and looked upon as a symbol of the greatness the Buddha represented.